Welcome a new start in 2014
If topics of race, religion and crime provide news media with top stories in a typical year, then 2013 was a typical year.
Racial issues continued to dominate national headlines.
TV cooking celebrity Paula Deen appeared to lose some of her Southern charm when the public became aware she condoned racially charged language in the workplace.
The Food Network dropped her like a hot potato.
Race also reared its head in the murder of young Trayvon Martin and the subsequent trial of vigilante George Zimmerman.
Just as controversial is religion, and, true to form, it generated headlines by way of religious fundamentalists.
Two brothers from Chechnya, both Muslim terrorists, wreaked havoc on the Boston Marathon with their pressure-cooker attacks where they killed and injured innocent people and paralyzed the city.
Coverage of the bombing and subsequent manhunt provided the most dramatic images of 2013.
Near the end of the year, a family of wealthy Christian fundamentalists, who divide their time between private mansions and reality-TV swamps, caused uproar when the patriarch used inflammatory comments against two minority groups. His opinions generated both support and outrage. If nothing else, the issue proved we live in a pluralistic society. It also underscored the inherent value and wisdom in our Founding Fathers' declaration of separation of church and state.
But not all of the religious news was filled with tumult.
A new pope stepped in after another retired, something that hadn't happened in 600 years. In fact, folks initially weren't sure what to call a retired pope.
Natural disasters are always news. In 2013, storms generated typical coverage. Fortunately, there was no tsunami of biblical proportions as had happened several years ago.
But a meteor exploding over Russia caused plenty of drama, injured some, and sparked greater interest in the skies.
Compelling health care stories always pop up. But in 2013, the top one focused on the Affordable Care Act, or ObamaCare. It survived a Supreme Court challenge but appears to be self-destructing over computer glitches and a prevailing belief the president knowingly lied about the program in order to get reelected.
Related to health care is mental health, which always seems to figure into news stories.
Perhaps the biggest one in 2013 was the trial of a young, attractive mother accused of sociopathic behavior in the murder of her young daughter, whose body was kept in the car trunk.
The name Jodi Arias is enough to cause people's blood to boil. Our country hasn't seen such fascination with an acquited murderess since Lizzie Borden took an ax.
So what will 2014 bring?
There was a time we had someone to tell us.
Many of us remember a woman named Jean Dixon, astrologer and psychic.
She'd submit a list of "coming events," but her predictions, to me, always seemed non-specific.
"There will be a geological calamity next year," she'd say.
Well, of course. Odds are there will always be something within a 12-month span: earthquake, volcano, mudslide.
She had some errant predictions, too.
"I see a comet striking the earth in the mid-1980s," she predicted. We're still waiting for that one.
Dixon is long gone and we have nobody to entertain us with predictions.
I could've used her crystal ball last week when picking my lottery numbers. Where's a good psychic when you need one?
Here's hoping your 2014 brings good health, happiness and a winning Megamillions ticket.
But even if it doesn't happen, two out of three ain't bad.